After Bloomberg revealed that Amazon secretly sent recordings from Alexa to subcontractors all over the world in order to improve its speech-recognition systems, a whistleblower leaked recordings from Google Home to investigative reporters from VRT, revealing that Google, too, was sending audio clips from its voice assistant technology to pieceworkers through the Crowdsource app.
Read the rest
L’Union européenne est sur le point de donner encore plus de pouvoir à une poignée d’entreprises géantes états-uniennes en technologie, en échange contre des accords temporaires de partage des bénéfices avec une poignée d’entreprises géantes européennes de divertissements. Cela entraînerait en contrepartie une censure de masse et affaiblirait encore plus la position de négociation des artistes professionnels européens.
Read the rest
The EU plan to mandate censoring filters for online speech to catch copyright infringement could be finalised as early as next week, and our best hope for halting it is to get the national governments of key EU member states to reject the proposal at that "trilogue" committee meeting.
Read the rest
After the delightful wooden elevator down from Antwerp's streets, the 1876-foot pedestrian tunnel under the Scheldt is "staggeringly monotonous," reports Atlas Obscura, but I rather like it. I have one question: what would the diameter of a well-lit circular tunnel like this need to be for its curvature to be imperceptible?
Actually, I have another question: What would the diameter of a dimly-lit circular tunnel like this, lined with books, need to be for its curvature to be imperceptible?
Photo: Trougnouf (CC BY-SA 4.0) Read the rest
Garnet Hertz is the designer/scholar/provocateur behind the amazing Disobedient Electronics project ("Building electronic objects can be an effective form of social argument or political protest"); though he is normally based at British Colombia's Emily Carr University, he's currently touring Europe with the Disobedient Electronics book on a Disobedient Electronics protest tour, with stops in London, Southampton, the Hague, Brussels, Paris, Berlin and Madiera. Read the rest
Belgian artist Wim Delvoye attained fame and controversy by tattooing fine-art pieces on pigs; when retired tattoo parlor manager Tim Steiner volunteered his skin for a Delvoye piece, the result was purchased by a German art collector called Rik Reinking for €130,000 (Steiner got a third of that). Steiner has agreed to be flayed after his death, with his skin stretched, cured and framed for Reinking's collection. Read the rest
The Belgian Parliament has voted to continue its decades-long practice of supplying free booze to lawmakers, despite several incidents of unpleasant, drunken behavior, because the alternative is going back to having to drag elected officials out of the local bars when it's time to vote. Read the rest
After a pair of Belgian teenagers made a viral sensation with a Youtube video documenting their unauthorized sleepover in an Ikea store, at least 10 other sets of teens have tried to repeat the stunt: now, Ikea is putting the world's teens on notice that they will press charges if they catch you trying it. Read the rest
Last November, Kris Temmerman decided to outfit the empty store-window of his Antwerp flat/studio as a playable video game for his neighbours to play as they passed by. He wrote his own Arduino-powered pixel-art game and set some controllers into the exterior window-frame and watched what happened. It turned out great, and Kris has thoroughly documented the build and released his source so you can try it too. Read the rest
From "Habitat," a 2010 installation in the Luchtbal district of Antwerp, UNFOLD's "Felis Domesticus." It's a 3.5 meter soft sculpture of a sleeping cat that visitors can lounge upon (finally, the lap-sitting tables are turned!). Pity this never went into production as a piece of furniture; it'd make a fabulous beanbag alternative.
Habitat: Felis Domesticus
(via Geekologie) Read the rest
Remember early-nineties Belgian techno of the sort that (Mike Shallcross quipped, as quoted on the wikies) was "tough, metallic tracks...with harsh, discordant synth lines that sounded like distressed Hoovers?" If you're having a hard time trying to recreate the sound from that description, try this.
This is Belgium Part Two: Cherry Moon On Valium has discovered a cheap and effective way to breathe new life into those old 12 inches: just slow them down to 115bpm, and voila (gesluierd): the intervening decades telescope down to nothing in an eyeblink. Read the rest
A new Snowden leak, reported by Laura Poitras in Der Spiegel, shows that the UK spy agency GCHQ used fake versions of Slashdot and LinkedIn to attack tech staff at Global Roaming Exchanges -- interchange points where large networks meet up. It's speculated that the attacks were used to compromise Belgacom International Carrier Services (BICS).
GRX is roughly analogous to an IX (Internet Exchange), and it acts as a major exchange for mobile Internet traffic while users roam around the globe. There are only around two dozen such GRX providers globally. This new attack specifically targeted administrators and engineers of Comfone and Mach (which was acquired over the summer by Syniverse), two GRX providers.
Der Spiegel suggests that the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the British sister agency to the NSA, used spoofed versions of LinkedIn and Slashdot pages to serve malware to targets. This type of attack was also used to target “nine salaried employees” of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the global oil cartel.
This new revelation may be related to an attack earlier this year against Belgacom International Carrier Services (BICS), a subsidiary of the Belgian telecom giant Belgacom. BICS is another one of the few GRX providers worldwide.
UK spies continue “quantum insert” attack via LinkedIn, Slashdot pages [Cyrus Farivar/Ars Technica]
(via TechDirt) Read the rest
Dairy farmers protesting in Brussels sprayed thousands of litres of milk on the European Parliament and its police cadre. Shown here, a small thumbnail of a remarkable photo by John Thys for AFP/Getty Images. Click through for the full image, on the Telegraph's site.
Dairy farmers spray milk at the European Parliament in Brussels Read the rest
Belgium's Maarten De Ceulaer displayed his knobbly chairs and sofas at Milan's Spazio Rossana Orlandi. The series is called "Mutation."
Each piece in the Mutation series is made from foam spheres, cut so they fit together, attached to a frame and coated in rubber or flocked. De Ceulaer’s work is also on show at the Triennale di Milano and as part of IN Residence at Ventura Lambrate.
Mutation by Maarten De Ceulaer
(via Crib Candy)
(Photo: Nico Neefs) Read the rest
La Balade des Gnômes is a B&B in Durbuy, Belgium. It has a series of themed rooms kitted out with carved driftwood and various fantastic elements. As the name implies, many of the rooms look like something out of a Brian Froud illustration, but there's also a Jules Verne space-exploration room, Baba Yaga's hut, a troll's den, a Gaudi themed room, and what appears to be a Trojan Horse. It's like a Belgian Madonna Inn, with less kitsch and more fantasy. The site's kind of hard to navigate, and the photos are disappointingly small, but there's a partial set of larger ones on Kozikaza.
La Balade des Gnômes - Chambres de charme - Chambres d'hôtes - Bed&Breakfast à DURBUY (Heyd) (via Neatorama)
(Photo: © Photos P. Schyns - Sofam) Read the rest
Robin Wauters writes in The Next Web about the bizarre, cartoon-villain move from Belgian copyright collecting society SABAM, who are demanding that public libraries pay royalties when volunteers read to groups of ten or so small children. SABAM is demanding €250 per year from each cash-strapped library. The technical term for this is "eating your seed corn" (a less technical term might be "acting like a titanic asshole"). If kids are read to, they grow up to be readers, and they buy books. If kids don't get the reading habit, they won't grow up to buy books and writers will starve.
Twice a month, the library in Dilbeek welcomes about 10 children to introduce them to the magical world of books. A representative of the library in question is quoted in the De Morgen report as saying there’s no budget to compensate people who read to the kids, relying instead on volunteers (bless them)...
The De Morgen reporter then contacted SABAM (probably to check if this wasn’t an elaborate hoax or some grave error in judgment) and received a formal statement from the organization asserting that, indeed, public libraries need to pay up for the right to – once again – READ BOOKS TO KIDS.
Belgian rightsholders group wants to charge libraries for READING BOOKS TO KIDS Read the rest